To Rev. Greene: October 22, 1839

Waiilatpu. Oregon Territory

Oct 22d 1839

Rev David Greene
Sec - of the A. B. C. F. M.

Dear Sir.

Your letters of Oct. 17th - 38 - to me and March 21st - 39 to Mr Spalding + myself came to hand both about the same time the first week in Sept -

We have heard of the arrival of twenty eight boxes for this mission at Vancouver

Doct McLoughlin wrote us from London saying there was an arangement for our letters to go by the Montreal Express - He has just passed by on his way to Vancouver - with the Companies Express from Canada -

Mr + Mrs Hall are with us + will stay for the winter. - They are detained by Mrs Hall state of Pregnancy -

We have settled upon the Alphabet recommended by yourself + the Board with the exception of v for short u which is represented by a - All had become weary of the first attempt at writing with the one fixed upon by Mr Spalding -

I never consented to it - + on the accession of Mr Smith to the language. laid before him your views on the subject - After an examination - he said he prefered Mr Spaldings method to Mr Pickering - or yourself - and this seemed to be the only prospect for a time, indeed one book was printed in that alphabet - But by the judicious advice of Mr Hall - an easy adjustment was made - + we now have a small book - from which we are teaching - written with Mr Pickering's Alphabet -

I never have approved of teaching the English - neither have I taught it except from necessity - as Mr. Spalding was teaching which made it desireable for us to do something to satisfy the Indians for the time being untill books should be prepared in their own language -

There are several important errors in your last report (1838) of this Mission

1st - The intention of the Indians in taking horses to the States with Mr Gray in order to assist in paying the expences of the reinforcement in coming to their country. - Their intention was to exchange horses for cows - for their own use an object represented to them in such a light as to induce them to make great effort to obtain them - Some of them have been + are now looking for pay for their horses + one has been paid; + I doubt not all will have to be - before they will feel easy + satisfied about their loss -

2d. Mr Gray did not go home by my advice as my letters which he carried clearly intimated if they did not say as much in words

3d. Wm H Gray Physician - I cannot concieve how you have been so much imposed upon as to report him as Physician - what can a man learn in sixteen weeks of public lectures (which is barely all he can boast) to entitle him to that distinction. - It cannot be regarded in any other light in this country than a slur upon the Board + this Mission -

At our Annual Meeting the first week in Sept - Mr Smith was appointed to commence a station in the Upper Nes Perces Country - where he has been for the summer past + I was retained here - I do not think it proper for me to hold the most difficult + responsible station in the mission where all contact with Traders Catholics Travellers + adventurers of every discription come in immediate contact + where I have to discharge all the duties of Minister + Physician to the Mission -

The prospect of benefiting the Indians (to look at outward appearances) is clouded - by the recent tour of the Catholic Priest who has made the circuit as far as Colvile - + so down the river to Walla Walla - at which place he commenced baptising + told the Indians he would come agin in the spring + baptise more. He told them we Americans had kept them too long from baptism + were too persevering in rebuking their bad hearts The younger Waiilatpu Chief put away one of his wives at the instigation of the Priest + had his child baptised + was forbid to come to hear our instructions any more + so were all who desired to be taught by them.

Doct Mc Loughlin on his passage wrote me from Walla Walla giving us every assurance of cooperation in our work in answer to which I shall thank him for his many favours to us + for the assurance of the continuance of them + inquire how far the company wish the Catholicks to interfere with the Indians among whom we are located - stating some of the facts of the late visit of the Priest

As he is to resume his charge at Vancouver - if he sustains them our work perhaps will be nearly to a close - for the Indians say - the Priest represents to them - one head Priest - (who must be the Pope) + some two or three others, + that he + his colleague came here at their order. + that the head Priest is very rich + sends all the goods to this country - (which of course gives them the impression that he is the head of trade) + that if they will come to him for instructions they may be confident of having an abundance of favours or in other words presants -

Doct McLoughlin Mr Pambrun and Mr Payette are Catholicks - but the other Gentlemen of the Company are not + are to appearance opposed to them - The servants of the Co - are to a great extent Catholicks + it is purely on their account they were permitted by the Committe in London to come - But since they are here they seem inclined to draw in all the Indians possible for which the have every facility desireable if the Company permit - for at every post interperters can be had - + generally Catholick

Not withstanding all this the Indians in general appear well and inclined to hear instruction - They are much pleased with the book in their own language - + seem more gratified with learning to read than when we taught them English - For little more than a month past our school has averaged from sixty to eighty scholars; children + adults - We hope to get more books ready + printed before Mr Hall returns to the Islands -

All the crops were cut off at Colvile except a little winter wheat - from drouth + grasshoppers + so that if Mr. Spalding + myself had not cultivated we should have been brought into distress + perplexity, a fact well worthy the remembrance of the Board - + the new reinforcement who can never understand what those do who first came into the field - We are told we have paid to much attention to temporal affairs - + by whom? By the persons who I fed the first winter they were in the field + again it was renewed by Mr Smith this fall while he is looking for half the crop raised at Waiilatpu - which I put in + cultivated by superentending myself + all the expences are paid by myself except the wages of one Hawaiian from the middle of April to the middle of Sept at £ 17 per anum - I may perhaps agree with them in part when they say we have cultivated to largely when I reflect it was done to support them in ease + comfort to enable them to devote nearly the whole of their time in studying the language - while they so ungreatfully reproach the hands that fed them -

Sabbath June 23d was a day of deep affliction to us - Our dear + only child a daughter two years + three months old - fell into the river + was drowned - She took two tin cups from the table which was set for dinner to go for water unnoticed - Mrs Whitman missing her sent the girl living with us to search for her She neglected to come + tell us that she could not find her but went into the garden for Radishes. -

Mrs W - + myself were reading + quite unmindful of the time that passed - but being arroused by the announcement that two cups were in the river + going to see + learning that the child was not with the girl as Mrs W had supposed - we made immediate search along the river for some time - but to no purpose - at last the body was found lodged on some roots by the shore quite near the house - it being hid from view by some bushes - when first found we had hope of restoring life + made every effort but in vain - already the spirit had been released from the pale + lifeless clay - having been taken away by our kind Heavenly Father we feel her loss greatly; taken from us in the full vigour of health + under such trying circumstances - But while we mourn her early departure the satisfaction is ours that it was a dispensation from our Gracious Lord for our good - + that if we are obedient to his will we may have the consolation that she has only gone a little before us to the "rest of the people of God." She was intered on the 27th being kept for the arrival of Messrs Spalding + Hall -

I have employed Mr Munger as Mechanick for the winter - who came out in company with Rev J S Griffen as self supporting Missionaries - Perhaps I shall feel it best to keep him permanently as I do not think it my duty to be alone + be subject to be called in cases of extreme haste to visit some of the other stations at a distance of from one hundred + twenty to one hundred + eighty miles having to leave my family alone + perhaps under the most trying circumstances - which has already been the case several times the past summer. Mr Munger's present wages are eight dollars a month with provisions for himself + wife - + probably he will continue at the same rate for any length of time desired.

I am advised by Mr Hall to build a house for persons who may come to spend a season with us, as he has done - for the benefit of their health - as Mr Gulick + perhaps Mr Whitney desire to do.

May the Lord direct + sustain us in our work - with assurances of feelings of acquiescence + cooperation in the views of the Board -

I am
Dear Sir
Yours Truly -
Marcus Whitman

P. S. waiilatpu is the right way to spell the name of this station according to the present Alphabet. N. B. It is the proper name of this tribe instead of Kayuse.

M. W.

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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